The Federal Executive Council, FEC, yesterday, approved N654 million for the deployment of hybrid spectrum monitoring system targeting illegal frequencies in the southern part of the country especially, the South East. This is coming on the heels of the growing agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, for an independent nation.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Minister said that investigation had shown that the use of illegal frequencies in the country has become very rampant and a threat to the nation’s security.
According to him, “The Federal Executive Council chaired by our boss, President Muhammadu Buhari has been briefed about an investigation carried out by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and also sought for the approval of deploying hybrid spectrum monitoring system most importantly to focus on the South Eastern zone of the country.
“Firstly, we have carried out an investigation of the use of illegal frequencies in the country which has become very rampant. From January to August 2020, within the period of eight months or thereabout, we discovered 320 frequencies being used all over the country and of this 320, 106 were illegal.
“This is very worrisome because the usage of this illegal spectrum or frequencies will compromise our security and safety in the country. It is because of the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari in promoting security that we came up with this initiative of monitoring the usage of frequencies and to discover the legal and the illegal ones.
“For the legal ones, we will ensure that they get renewal (of their licenses) annually and for the illegal ones, necessary actions are being taken according to the gravity of the offence.
“We discovered that our monitoring did not cover South East. It covered five zones in the country: North East, North West, North Central, South West and South-South but South East has not been covered.
“It is because of this that we presented our memo, seeking for the council’s approval of N653,886,584 to procure and deploy hybrid spectrum monitoring system that will cover the southern part of the country, most importantly the south east.
“So, the council approved for the deployment and this project will go a long way in promoting safety and security and secondly, identify the usage of illegal spectrum and thirdly, enhance revenue for the federal government and fourthly, in the long run, it will create many jobs for the citizens.”
Asked how the spectrum has helped to arrest the worsening security situation in the North especially, the North East and the specific sanction for the illegal 106 ones discovered, the Minister said that such question should be directed to the security institutions and that there was nothing the security agencies had demanded to promote security through intelligence that was not provided to them.
“Like I said, it will go a long way in promoting safety and security in the National Frequencies Management Council of which I am the chairman. It has been established by law under NCA 2003 Section 31.
Security institutions are represented in that council in addition to other institutions that deploy spectrum like ministries of transportation and aviation (they use frequency in the aircraft).
Office of the National Security Adviser and Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as a regulator of broadcasting are also members of the council. “It is in the council that each sector that feels that this council will add value to its activities, will come up with measures on how to use the council to promote what they need.
So, it is because of this that we deploy this and security institutions are represented and whatever we do is in agreement with the law. “So, if there is any question with regard to security, it is important to reach out to the security institutions.
For your information, they have never requested anything from us that will promote security through intelligence that we have not provided. But I am not in the position to answer question on security particularly outside the mandate given to me.
“For those we have investigated so far, there is a process. When we discover the usage of illegal frequency, a letter will be written to that institution to draw their attention to it.
If it is a government institution, there is a process of investigation. “There is also a process if it is a private one. Sometimes, it will take up to litigation and we are in the process right now.
I had a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on how to facilitate the process. So, we are in the process of doing that.”